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Game report: Rochester 9 @ Toronto 10

The Rock wanted to clinch first place in the East last week, but Matt Vinc had other ideas. Rochester’s 2013 season hasn’t gone they way they wanted to, I’m sure, but they are by no means out of the race and with Vinc in net, the Knighthawks are no pushovers. In Sunday’s rematch, the Rock didn’t exactly solve Vinc – he still only allowed 10 goals – but they certainly had more success in preventing the Knighthawks forwards from scoring. I wouldn’t say Nick Rose was outstanding, though he was solid, but the Rock defense played very well. In particular I saw outstanding defensive plays from Mike Hobbins, Stephen Hoar, Damon Edwards, Jesse Gamble, and Kyle Belton – and those are just the ones I made mental notes of.

The game started off with some good and bad news. Good news: Colin Doyle’s wife is in labour! Child #3 is on the way! Bad news: Colin has this crazy “I love my family” thing going, so he left to be with his wife – which is totally the right thing to do, I say as my wife reads this over my shoulder. Seriously, congratulations to the Doyle family and welcome to the world, young baby Doyle.

Doyle is having an outstanding season so his loss was going to be noticed. But as good teams do, everyone else stepped up when one of the top players is out. Josh Sanderson was acting captain and also returned to his old post of anchoring the offense along with Garrett Billings. Billings had 6 points – a pretty good total for most other players, but Billings’ second-lowest of the season (he had 4 games with 4 points). Kasey Beirnes also had a good game, also with 6 points, and continues his role as unsung hero of the Rock. If asked to name the offensive stars of the team, Beirnes’ name doesn’t come to mind quite as quickly as Billings, Doyle, Sanderson, or Leblanc, but if you ask Troy Cordingley, Terry Sanderson, or Colin Doyle about him, they can’t say enough good things about his play, and many Rock fans know him as one of the hardest working forwards out there. I asked this philosophical question a few years ago about Shawn Williams and it seems to apply to Beirnes as well – if everyone thinks of you as an underrated player, are you?

As I said before, the Rock defense was excellent. Not only did they play well as a unit, there were some great individual efforts as well. Mike Hobbins was covering Dan Dawson in the first quarter and just wouldn’t let him get open to take a shot or even pass. When the shot clock buzzer sounded, Dawson dropped the ball and was so frustrated he grabbed Hobbins, threw him to the floor, and stormed off to his bench. The Knighthawks defense was also solid, though I wish they’d use B. Self and S. Self on the jerseys instead of just Self so I’d know who to credit for a particular play in which someone (Beirnes?) was basically mashed into the end boards and held there until the shot clock expired. I think it was Scott (since Brad is more of a transition guy), who was a nice little pickup for the Knighthawks considering they gave up Kedoh Hill from their practice roster for him.

Only one game left in the Rock season, a game in Philly to try and clinch top spot in the league and home floor throughout the playoffs. The Knighthawks, on the other hand, have three games left – a nasty Alberta doubleheader against the Roughnecks and Rush, and then the season finale against Buffalo.

Just a couple of other game notes:

  • In the second half, a Knighthawks goal was disallowed (I think – might have been a Rock goal), and Rochester coach Mike Hasen wanted to challenge the call. He threw the challenge flag – and hit the referee square in the chest. The ref stopped and glared directly at Hasen for a full ten seconds before continuing to the officials area. I was watching the ref and not Hasen, so I don’t know what he was doing. NLL Rule 17.89 says that if the coach attempts to hit the ref with the flag, the team gets an unsportsmanlike minor and the coach gets a game misconduct. It also says that the ref has discretion to decide whether the throw was intentional or not. There was no penalty, so presumably the ref decided it was accidental. Oddly, Hasen did not throw the flag directly away from the bench, or closer to mid-floor as coaches generally do, he threw it in the direction of the net, which was also where the ref was. Perhaps he was trying to throw it near the ref, to make sure he was aware that he was challenging the call, and the throw was more accurate than he intended.
  • The Rock’s anthem singer also works game ops for the team, and was picking up balls during the halftime shooting contest. I was worried that a ball might hit him and break him in half – he looks about 6-foot-1 and 120 pounds. For a skinny little guy, he has one hell of a powerful voice though.

Week 14 picks

Last week I went 3-2, my fourth straight week of .500-or-better predictions. I guess I’m settling down as we get deeper into the season. You know what they say, particularly in the NLL – you don’t want to peak early. Much better to get hot near the end of the season. Right, 2012 Knighthawks?

Record: 25-32 (.439)




WAS @ CAL Tough one. Washington can clinch a playoff spot by beating the Roughnecks, so they’re hungry. The Roughnecks know they were one T-Rich penalty away from losing to the Stealth last weekend, and they’re playing to clinch a home date. I’ll take Calgary at home, but in a close one. Roughnecks
COL @ EDM How can you bet against the Rush, the way they’ve been playing? Sure they’re 1-4 at home, but haven’t played there in over a month and have since won five straight including beating both the Rock and Roughnecks handily. Rush
BUF @ MIN The Swarm have won their last two by 7 and 9 goals. The Bandits have lost five in a row. The Bandits certainly have the talent to win this game, and you’d think that having their backs to the wall playoff-wise would spur them on to play better. But I didn’t see that last week in Toronto. Coach Darris Kilgour questioned their heart last year, but this year might be worse. Swarm
PHI @ ROC Rochester seems to have found their groove after trading Casey Powell. Not that he was the cause of their problems, but moving him freed up the rest of their offense. That seems to have helped, adding Scott Self made a pretty good defense better, and Matt Vinc has been great all year. If anyone other than the Rush are getting hot at the right time, it might be the Knighthawks. Knighthawks
MIN @ PHI I had little confidence in the Wings before the season began, and there have been times where they’ve surprised me with how well they’ve played. But they’ve also had 20 goals scored against them twice this year and other than their early-season win over the Rock, all of their wins have come against teams below them in the standings. Like I said before, I’m still bullish on the Swarm – and that was before they destroyed the Wings last week. Swarm
ROC @ TOR Rochester played well in their game against the Rock last weekend, and as I said they seem to be getting hot at the right time. But the Rock really wanted to clinch the Eastern division title last weekend and the Knighthawks prevented that. They won’t want to let that happen again, particularly in their own building. Rock

How to tell if you’re watching too much lacrosse

During NLL season, I watch a lot of lacrosse. Before scheduling things on a weekend, my wife routinely checks with me to see when the games are. It’s not mandatory that I watch all of them, but I try to watch as many as I can. On the other hand, I’ve been a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs my entire life, and yet I’ve seen pieces of maybe 3 or 4 Leaf games this season on TV. I don’t think I’ve watched an entire game from beginning to end.

It’s possible that I’m watching too much lacrosse.

If you suspect you have the same problem, here’s a handy checklist. If you recognize these symptoms just remember, admitting you have a problem is the first step.

You may watch too much lacrosse if:

  • You see 6-5 as the final score of a hockey game and think that both goalies must have been outstanding.
  • Watching a live sporting event from Monday-Thursday seems weird.
  • You say things like “that tranny is really good at grabbing loose balls” and think nothing of it.
  • You think of Brian Shanahan as “Shanny” and Brendan as “Shanny’s brother”, not the other way around.
  • You watch a hockey game on TV and wonder why the announcers are not explaining the rules as they go.
  • A defenseman scoring a hat-trick in a game raises your eyebrows a little, but not much.
  • The idea of a player missing games or even entire seasons because they couldn’t get time off from work is not unusual to you.
  • You think it’s weird how hockey defensemen stay out on the ice even when their team has the puck.
  • In an NHL game, you see someone score a goal while his foot is in the crease and wonder why nobody’s yelling about it, except that guy over there from Buffalo.